We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mrs. Snipes of The Ladies Aid Society

I'm still on the tiny book kick. I just discovered this little cookbook that I found somewhere - a garage sale, flea market, estate sale, not sure where.

This book isn't really tiny - it's 4" x 6" so I'd consider it a small book. It's actually an address book that's been converted into a receipt book/cookbook. I had to do some sleuthing to figure out who the book belongs to. Since it's from 1889 and a lot of it is written in pencil, it was difficult to make out all of the writing. But in really faint writing I can see that Mrs. Snipes was the industrious owner of this little treasure. Oh, actually she was the treasurer of the Ladies Aid Society of the M.E. Church of Plainfield, Indiana.

Here's the receipt part of the book:

The ladies sure did enjoy some high brow music. Most of their money seems to have been spent on concerts. Pretty steep prices in those days - $13.41 & $17.30. They must have hired the entire Plainfield symphony!! Those ladies were cultured.

They also spent $15.00 for furniture for the parsonage (is this where they held their meetings, or were they donating furniture to the parson?)

They must have had a grand Thanksgiving Supper for a total of $18.85. Of course, we don't know how many members were served but I'd guess that back in 1889 you could feed about 150 people for this amount.

There wasn't a photograph of Mrs. Snipes in the book, but I'm imagining that she looked a little like this:

Is this a Mrs. Snipes or what? Can't you just imagine her keeping the expenses for the ladies aid society, then running home to her kitchen, donning an apron and baking some yeast biscuits?  Mrs. Snipes also looks like she would enjoy a musical interlude now and then.

In my fantasies I imagine that Mrs. Snipes was a friend of Mrs. Reagan (perhaps the grandmother of Ronald?). Mrs. Reagan was kind enough to divulge her secret cake recipe for inclusion in this little informal cookbook. I'm thinking that the Ladies Aid Society were planning to publish a cookbook to raise funds for their next Thanksgiving Supper or maybe another concert. And Mrs. Snipes was keeping the recipes in this little book until they could find a publisher.

Then the cookbook never got published for lack of recipes - there's only about 10 or 12 in this book, hardly enough for a reputable cookbook. So Mrs. Snipes put the little book away and several years later her grandson found it and scrawled his little autograph on one of the pages hoping that Grandma would see it:

The only recipe that is legible enough to include (in case you want to try a recipe from 1889) is one for Persimmon Pudding. Want to try it?

1 pint persimmons
1 pint milk (rub through sieve!)
2 eggs
2 large spoons flour
1/2 tea sp all spice
1 pint water
1 quart milk
1/2 cup sugar
Beat eggs - add flour and spices. Then mix and sweeten to taste.

Maybe you shouldn't try this recipe. Why is there a pint and also a quart of milk? Maybe I'm reading the recipe wrong. See what you think:

Maybe Mrs. Snipes changed her mind about the pint of milk and changed it to a quart. I don't know but somehow I don't think this pudding would ever pud.


  1. Hmmm, I love the idea of a persimmon pudding, but there is something a little odd here. This is a great little book though, and I think the photo is probably perfect. I don't have a good source for persimmons anymore, but when I did, I loved using the Persimmon cookie recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

  2. That book - be it tiny or little - is a great find. What is it about such things that we find endlessly fascinating : I suppose it is the unauthorised glimpse it gives us into people's lives. There is something of the voyeur in all of us lovers of old images.

  3. What A Lovely Find!
    I feel hungry just reading it! Time To Get Cooking Me'Thinks!

  4. I am planning to post something soon about my cookbook/recipe collection, but I have nothing this old. How fascinating and you played it into an interesting enjoyable read of the times; yes at those prices, must have hosted quite the events for the entire town/area. When we lived in CA we had a persimmon tree; loved them and made puddings and cookies or waited till they were very ripe and slimy and ate them raw... I did not think they would be familiar in Indiana as they are not in MN still today. Interesting that she has to sieve the milk, it must have been heavy duty churned with lumps..

  5. Why is it that we really take notice of things that are small? They just seem to hold our interest! A very nice find indeed!

  6. My wife has old recipe books compiled by her mother. We still make us of them. Even our children remember the 'snowballs' that Nana used to make over fifty years ago.
    I like your choice for Mrs Snipes, I can imagine her in charge of a kitchen.

  7. I hope she rubbed her persimmons through the sieve and not the milk. If the sieve was needed for the milk we'd have a problem. She doesn't quite finis her recipes - perhaps she knew what to do with her big bowls full of ingredients. This is a wonderful book and and excellent post you have shared with us!

  8. It would be fun to check the census to see if you could actually find Mrs. Snipes, fun to learn more about her.

    Her book is very appealing. Muse Swings commented that she didn't finish her recipes. My mom's recipes listed only ingredients, no instructions. I think they learned from childhood what to do with the ingredients. My grandmother didn't usually write her recipes down at all, though I do have one spelling book she filled with recipes. I'm going to post it (or part of it) sometime.

    Thanks for the treat of viewing Mrs. Snipes' book.

  9. Milk shouldn't really require a seive, as Nancy says, but why not try out the recipe and see what happens? I love that you have the little book, even if the recipes aren't specific enough :-) Jo

  10. What a great little book, Mrs Snipes of the Ladies Aid Society sounds like a Dickensian character.

  11. What a wonderful find. Your sleuthing is so entertaining!! I'm trying to figure out that recipe. They didn't find it necessary in those days to explain too much - I guess because everyone knew the basics.The little autograph is so endearing.

  12. I have a few of these of my Grandmother's and the whole sense of recipes didn't really include directions. On just knew what ingredients should go together and in what sequence.